The Big Ideas History Syllabus

tags: historiography, teaching history, philosophy of history

Andrew Joseph Pegoda (@AJP_PhD) holds a Ph.D. in History and teaches women’s, gender, and sexuality studies; religious studies; and English at the University of Houston. Previous articles can be found in The Conversation, History News Network, Inside Higher Ed, Time, and The Washington Post, among others.



This video essay articulates my personal Philosophy of History as it current exists. In other words, my “Big Idea History Syllabus” expresses how I see and understand both the past and the study of the past. These ideas inform everything about how I teach, how I write, and how I live day-to-day.


Since his viral YouTube video “A Vision of Studies Today” in 2007, I have been following Dr. Michael Wesch’s research, which often focuses on pedagogy. In particular, his “Big Idea Syllabus” for anthropology inspired my “Big Idea History Syllabus.” (As I teach a variety of subjects, I’ve also written a “Big Idea Writing Syllabus” and a “Big Idea Gender Studies Syllabus.”)


The core of the “Big Idea Syllabus” framework is to think beyond the specific curriculum and the learning objectives for any given class and instead to articulate points that actually matter in the big picture. Wesch urges educators to think what big ideas can actually remain with students and help them embrace what he calls “the learning worth crying about.”

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